This post is inspired by Alexey Guzey’s post. Last updated Oct 18, 2021.
1. Physical World Things
I love the trackpad on MacBooks. Apple has done such a great job with the trackpad, but it is not as useful when you use it with an external monitor.
I use the Logitech MX Master 2S. I’ve heard great things about it. It’s a little expensive, but I love it.
Update. I’d love to upgrade to the XM4’s (Sony WH-1000XM4), but I don’t have any spare cash to burn.
I spent most of my savings on these, and I don’t regret them at all. I’m a very no-nonsense person. In fact, many people on campus will accuse me of being ignorant about events going on around me. While there is some truth to it, I cannot appreciate the value of a good pair of headphones enough. I have the Sony WH-1000XM3’s.
This pair of headphones is the best investment I’ve made so far. The noise-cancelling on these is excellent. It drowns out most noise around you completely and is the best thing to help you study in a noisy cafe or the library. I use the Sony WF-1000XM3’s more often, though, just because they are portable.
Things I love about the XM3’s apart from active noise-cancellation:
- Swipe for skipping/rewind.
- Wireless: reduces the friction to listen to books or documentaries.
- Double tap for play/pause. The WF-1000XM3’s accept single tap play/pause. But this can be changed in the app, so it’s okay.
- Tap, swipe etc., works even when you’ve mildly wet hands.
- Long battery life. I can get about two days’ worth of listening time on a single full charge.
Because I listen to music, audiobooks, watch videos, lectures, movies, web series, basically almost everything on these headphones, they’re totally worth it. I don’t plan to ditch them anytime soon. I listen to books and music for several hours a day. This has increased even more now that we’re stuck at home and spend most of our time in front of the screen. So, they are like my lifeline.
The only issue with these Sony headphones is that they kind of screwed up the multi-device support. The companion app feels outdated by 2020 phone app standards. It’s not bad per se, but nothing like the synergy between the Airpods, Apple Software and other Apple devices.
I use the MacBook Pro 2020.
My dream laptop (should be portable) should have these features:
- 4K 15” screen
- 32 GB of RAM
- 1TB+ SSD storage
- 8 core processor AMD/Intel/Apple’s is fine
- Water-resistant keypad, lap-top thingy because I drop quite many things while working
Based on all of these, if I can afford it, I would probably go with the maxed-out version of MacBook Pro 16” (2019), with an NVIDIA GPU (3080?).
I have a Samsung 27” Curved Monitor that I connect to my MacBook in clamshell mode. The extra screen real estate is great for coding and lectures. I can code on one window and see the renders without switching windows. I can also watch lectures and type along or just note on my iPad.
I’d probably upgrade to a 4K screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio if I had an unlimited budget. 27” is fine, honestly. A better resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate would be sweet.
So, I finally got a proper camera. I have the Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera. I’m yet to pay off EMIs on the thing, but it is a good camera. I’ll write more about it once I use it more.
I use OnePlus 7. It’s outdated, and I guess OnePlus doesn’t make them anymore. But, it’s a great phone. I mean, my definition of a great phone is that it should run apps without lag and open apps fast. I don’t take many photos, so the camera is not a priority. But, a good camera system would be a nice addition.
I use Android over iOS just because I cannot afford an iPhone. I’ll make the switch to iOS once Apple releases reasonably priced phones in India.
My recommendation right now would probably be the iPhone 12, but it’s too pricey in India. I’ve also heard great things about the OnePlus 9 series.
I read (almost) everything on my Kindle. It is the best purchase decision I ever made. Read “You should get a Kindle”.
2. Computer Software
Here are some of my most used apps/tools on macOS (Big Sur, if you’re curious). Apple’s software support is incredible. I love macOS. I tried Windows and Ubuntu as well.
- Password manager. Bitwarden is my password manager of choice. I use the free version, but that has most of the things you’ll need. You can get more fancy features for a few dollars a month, but the free version works for me.
- Grammarly. Thanks to IIT Kanpur, I use Grammarly Premium to spell-check almost everything that I write. I wonder how much extra would it cost me once I graduate. I’ll probably get the premium version myself. It’s that awesome.
- Google Chrome with Google as my default search engine for web browsing.
- Todoist is my to-do list app of choice. It syncs events seamlessly between my phone and my laptop.
- iTerm 2.0 is my terminal of choice. I don’t use all its features, but it’s much better and prettier than the Terminal that ships with macOS.
- I use OneDrive for syncing work/study files. Thanks to IIMA, I have a lifetime subscription to Office 365 and a ton of cloud storage quota. For most other files, I just store them on a hard drive.
- I use open-sourced Rectangle app for snapping windows around my monitor.
3. Phone Apps
Why Android and not iOS?
Like I said before, it is because I cannot afford an iPhone. That’s it! Period.
- Spotify for (almost) everything – music (check this out), and podcasts (less often). I love Taylor Swift, Unconditionally (ironic, Katy Perry has a song with this title).
- I read books on my Kindle and use the mobile Kindle app to send the book highlights to myself via email. Read “You should get a Kindle”, and “FAQs”.
- The OneDrive app is amazing for scanning documents. It makes the process seamless and sync the scanned documents right to my computer, which makes working with the scanned files a lot easier.
I also use most standard young people apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter etc. Still, I thought it wouldn’t be as helpful to list them here.
4. The iPad situation
Update. I’ll recommend the iPad Air 2020 model if you’re looking to buy a new iPad/tablet in general. You won’t need the Pro models unless you are a creator or have extra cash to burn. Don’t buy the entry-level iPad because it’s a bit outdated and not a good value for money. If you’re just looking for something to consume media (Netflix, YouTube etc.), you can get the iPad Mini.
I use the iPad Air 3rd Gen, with the Apple Pencil, mainly for taking class notes. I plan on putting them up somewhere on this site. Email me if you need anything. I’ll send you (for free) if I happen to have the notes.
This has been life-changing in so many ways. Now I don’t lose my notes, and it’s easy to find my notes. I use an app called Notability for taking notes, and it syncs perfectly with my Dropbox (for free!) I’ve heard good things about Goodnotes 5, too. See which one suits your needs. I found that Notability does everything that I need.
I hope to take tons of notes in the future since I don’t plan on leaving academia anytime soon.
Other than notes, I use it mainly for watching movies in the cafe or read on the Kindle app if I forget my Kindle (the device). I also have this “Starry Night” thingy cover that I bought cheaply off Amazon on the iPad.